The damn thing lasted almost three months. The Mavericks swore to grow beards, bushy, unwieldy beards, until they got to .500. It wasn't easy, but with last night's win, the Mavs have crawled all the way back to respectability. As soon as the buzzer sounded, Dirk Nowitzki, the mountain manliest of Dallas's mountain men, sprinted to the locker room and broke out the razor. A 40-40 record never felt so good.
"It's been too long," the clean-shaven Nowitzki said. "My wife stopped kissing me somewhere in February. It feels good to shave again."
Back in January, with the Mavs well out of the playoff picture, Vince Carter and O.J. Mayo came up with a plan. No blade would touch their faces until .500. Nowitzki and Chris Kaman jumped on board. It seemed like a terrible idea and an ineffective motivator as Dallas struggled through February.
March was better. The Mavericks went on a run, and even briefly found themselves in eighth. But, one game under .500, they weren't able to close the deal. Nor the second time. A third opportunity also ended in a loss. So the beards grew and grew.
Carter appeared to have cheated by keeping his trimmed:
Kaman definitely did not:
But it was Dirk's that symbolized the frustrations of a team just two seasons removed from a championship, now unable to get over the hump. We watched the usually clean-shaven Nowitzki go from intimidating to unkempt, as Dallas's playoff hopes slipped away. Would he have to keep it all summer if the Mavs never got to .500?
Then, finally, last night, it happened. Nowitzki became only the 17th player in NBA history to score 25,000 career points, and a 107-89 victory over New Orleans pushed the Mavs to 40-40. Before even hitting the shower, Dirk reached for the electric shaver.
It's sort of already too late. Dallas was mathematically eliminated on Wednesday, so this will be the first time since 2000 an NBA postseason kicks off without the Mavericks. For only the second time in his career, Dirk will watch the first round of the playoffs from home. At least he won't be itchy.